Thursday, August 9, 2012

11 Tools, Post #2

As I started working with this next aspect of the 11 tools training, I found myself recalling experiences I had when I first started teaching, and remembering that feeling of being completely overwhelmed with trying to figure out how to best present the necessary concepts of music to my students.  In the years since, I have met and worked with a lot of fantastic music educators around the country, and have truly come to appreciate the "cycle" of resource sharing, if you will, and its importance in helping music educators bring quality instruction to each and every student.  As tools like blogs become more and more visible, and as more and more of us start to really use these tools, our students will truly be the beneficiaries of the ever-expanding personal learning networks (PLNs).

As teachers, we've all been to workshops and trainings in our subject matter, and have most likely come away with new ideas to try, and a renewed excitement for what we do.  I know that after a few days at TMEA, I absolutely can't wait to bring all of of those new ideas back to my students!!  The only problem is...TMEA happens only once a year.  Why can't I have that excitement about a new resource or idea all year long??  Well, with PLNs being created everywhere, I can!!  If I need a new idea, or if something works really, really well in my classroom and I want to share it, I just go to my PLN, and voila!  Instant sharing!  : )  We no longer have to wait for the next workshop or conference or training; we can seek out or share the information we desire sooner, thus increasing the chance of student success not just in our classrooms, but perhaps in someone's classroom thousands of miles away.  How cool is it that we can positively impact students we don't even know, just by sharing a comment or idea online!?!

And, I do think it is really important that the sharing go both ways. If you borrow an idea, reciprocate with one of your own. The responsibility for maintaining the continuity of the "cycle" rests on each and every one of us. At first, it is a bit scary to comment on something publicly because anyone can see what you say.  Even with this blog, I'm still getting used to that idea. Sharing ideas and comments within our own teams or groups feels safer, but at the same time, the only responses to shared ideas come from within that group, so the potential for an idea to grow and evolve isn't as high as it would be if the group were much larger.  As my own comfort with responding online increases, I think less about how others are helping me, and more about how I might be providing a perspective that is helpful to others.  The pieces of advice on commenting regarding humility and graciousness, I think, are extremely important to follow as we share ideas, build on them, and refine them.  Feedback and suggestions are great tools, and I think that many of us tend to have a negative viewpoint when we are on the receiving end of that feedback.  With increased visibility online, I hope that we all, as educators, can use comments in a gracious, humble, healthy manner to facilitate our own personal and professional growth.

I decided to go the route of signing up for Google Reader, and in very short order, found five wonderful blogs to follow.  In using the reader, I get all of the posted info from each blog consolidated in one place, which I love!  In one place, I can follow the latest happenings nationally in music education and find great new lesson ideas, or comment and share my own thoughts!  This weekend, I will be diving into reading the "Elementary Music Teacher Blog" in my Google Reader, as a quick glance has really piqued my interest!!  This blog looks to be a great sharing resource for lessons, ideas, tools, books, etc...

To my blog readers, thank you for your patience with my wordiness!  This is a subject that really has been very important to me, and I'm glad to have been able to share my experience and thoughts.  I'd love to hear from y'all on your thoughts too!

Friday, August 3, 2012

11 Tools, Post #1

Welcome to my blog!  I am excited to have this little corner of the web where I can share my thoughts with all of you.  

I'll begin with a post regarding Tool #1 from the "11 Tools for the 21st Century Learner." I consider myself to be a rather tech-savvy person, or at least I love using technology, so setting up my blog was easy and intuitive. Plus, the instructions were nicely done and easy to understand! My avatar, however, gave me a bit of a run for my money! Voki is a great tool, and they have a nice selection of avatars from which to choose... just make sure you choose one that isn't only for the Voki Classroom users.  I tried that, and they wouldn't let me keep it, so I had to choose another.  After customizing my mini-me, I returned to Blogger, and discovered that the version I'm using on my Mac (since I don't yet have my PC) has a slightly different layout than what I was expecting, so I had to play around with the design menu to find the place to upload the code for a gadget.  Once I found it, success!  I'm now really excited about what other gadgets I will be able to upload to this site!!  Stay tuned...